Nuclear not the answer, say Government advisors

Nuclear power is too costly and dangerous to justify its expansion in the UK, even if it cuts carbon emissions, the Government's own advisors said in a new report.

The authors of the Sustainable Development Commission report found unsolved problems such as long-term radioactive waste disposal to tip the balance against nuclear – although they acknowledged the “impressive safety record” of the British nuclear industry.

SDC chairman Jonathon Porrit said: “Instead of hurtling along to a pre-judged conclusion (which many fear the Government is intent on doing), we must look to the evidence.”

“There’s little point in denying that nuclear power has benefits, but in our view, these are outweighed by serious disadvantages. The Government is going to have to stop looking for an easy fix to our climate change and energy crises – there simply isn’t one.”

Coming three months before the UK’s Energy Review results are due, the report from the SDC, a Government advisory body, concludes that “[for long-term waste disposal] no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public; it is impossible to guarantee safety over the long- term disposal of waste.”

Apart from nuclear waste disposal, SDC experts identified four more major drawbacks to nuclear power expansion: high costs, the centralised distribution systems that come as part of the nuclear package, the wrong message on energy efficiency, and an increased international nuclear risk.

Instead, they pointed to a low-carbon innovation strategy and an aggressive expansion of energy efficiency and renewables as ways forward in the fight against climate change.

Green Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas said: “[The report] acknowledges that, at best, nuclear power could only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a mere eight per cent – that’s not much more than could be cut overnight by regulating to prevent six per cent of UK electricity being used to power machines left on standby.”

“A far greater impact on reducing CO2 emissions and securing our energy needs could be made through energy conservation.”

Friends of the Earth’s director, Tony Juniper, commented: “This rational and dispassionate review of the pros and cons of nuclear power rightly concludes that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.”

“Tony Blair and his Government must now seize the historic opportunity presented by the energy review to set the UK on course to becoming a world leader in developing a low-carbon, nuclear free economy. ”

By Goska Romanowicz

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